Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My White Buddha Lady

Michelle is in town for a few days. We met many moons ago in the admissions office at Loyola Marymount University. She was wearing a lavender leotard and high waisted jeans and looked gorgeous. Only Michelle could get away with a lavender leotard. I was wearing my standard short sleeved gap t-shirt and a little silk scarf tied snugly around my neck. She confessed years later that before meeting me, she thought I was hiding a tracheotomy or severe hickeys.

We are all grown up now, at least physically. She is just as beautiful as ever, if not more.  She is happily married and lives in Huntington Beach, California with her hilarious and dapper husband Bill. They are blessed with two stunningly beautiful and sassy little girls, Genevieve and Isla. Bill calls me little buddy and I dig it. I live in San Francisco with my lovely husband Bob of one year and my fluffy little dog Frieda. Did I mention I just turned 40? Frieda turns 70 in October.

Michelle made it a special point to come up and see "moi" for a few days before meeting her "other" friends for a girl trip. I have never been a part of the "other" group, the ones she goes on yearly crazy girl trips with to Miami and New York. Michelle and my "thing" always involved a thick slice of duck truffle pate from Trader Joe's and a bottle of $8 red wine. Our "thing" was also sprinkled with  tearful midnight phone calls over the years when "fill in the blank" had said or done something terrible. We took turns being the criers, but we were always there.

This trip was different. I felt more like one of the other girls. We dined out at fabulous places, ate oysters in the middle of the afternoon and got pedis afterward. These were entirely new activities for Michelle and I and I wondered why we had never attempted them together before. It was effortless. She will probably say it was because I was always frugal or broke.

After our afternoon of oysters, wine and mani pedis, we indulged in the best steak frites I have ever had at a "fabulous" place called 25 Lusk. I was surprised that my guilt gremlin had not yet reared it's ugly head. I took full advantage of his absence and suggested that we get massages the next morning at the Kabuki hots springs and partake in a little Japanese communal bath action. That is where the needle made the scratching sound. Michelle asked, "all nude?" and I said, "yes, but you can wear a swim suit, I wear bottoms". She was really excited about the massage part, but not super enthusiastic about the naked ladies. Michelle is the ultimate dichotomy. She has an incredibly edgy and crass sense of humor and then she hits you with not liking stranger nudity. Go figure.

We went in for our massages. I won't say anything about mine because "if you can't say something nice...", but Michelle got Xavier, pronounce Za-Vee-Ay. Well, Za Vee Ay is French and apparently played Michelle's achey muscles like a expert violinist. I will stop there. Anyhoo, my lackluster massage had come to an end and it was time for my favorite part, the $20 unlimited Japanese communal bath part. (insert comment about my frugality) I love the expansive hot sauna and the delicious steam room with complimentary lemon and cucumber slices. I have been known to consider them snacks.

My first stop was the big sauna. I took my place at one of the two Adirondack chairs situated facing each other on each side of the room. To the left and facing the entrance are 3 levels where one can choose to lay down, sit up or in some cases, do strange yoga poses and display a lack of attention to grooming. One tries not to look around much, although the curiosity kills me. I am fascinated by naked people and all of the variations that they come in. I especially love how natural everyone is at this place. No one seems to care about cellulite or droopy boobs. In fact, it was at the Kabuki that I saw a pair of cross eyed boobs on a little Japanese lady. I will make a painting one day. I digress.

In a moment of weakness, I glanced over to my left and spotted an older woman that appeared to be in her late 50's. She had really short salt and pepper hair and a very droopy belly despite her lean physique. The belly drooped over her situation completely. Her eyes were closed and she wore an expression of pure contentment. She was missing one breast. I know that this is the age of breast cancer, but I had never seen someone with a missing breast before. The breast that remained was healthy and happy and didn't reflect the woman's age.

I met Michelle in the steam room. I was careful not to talk too much. They gong you for talking and I was no stranger to the Kabuki gong hall of fame. We decided to make the hot tub our last stop. I sat in the hot and slightly oily water, looked up and noticed that the older woman with one breast was being escorted towards the hot tub by a younger woman. She entered the hot tub and sat peacefully with the same expression she had on in the sauna. She was blind.

A few hours later, Michelle and I wrapped up our adventure. Her friends were soon to arrive at SFO from Southern Cal and it was time for our debauchery to end and theirs to begin. I realized how much I loved and missed my friend and said good bye.

The next morning, I woke up at 6:50 am and went for a run. It was Saturday and if you know me, you know that I don't wake up before 8:30 on a weekday, but I sprung up, strapped on my shoes and my music and headed out the door feeling like Rocky Balboa. I always feel like Rocky when I run, even if it is just across the street. About half way through my run, my white Buddha lady from the Kabuki popped into my head. I began to bawl. I bawled and I ran for about 4 blocks until I was literally out of tears. Call it hormones or whatever you want, but I don't recall the last time I "experienced" gratitude to the point of crying.


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